“The Human Condition,” by Thomas Whitaker/Prison Arts Coalition
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION is a five-part, four-book series, including:
PART 1: Preface and General Introduction
PART 2: Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge
PART 3: Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics
PART 4: Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy
PART 5: Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise
Its author is ROBERT HANNA:
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1
PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 2
COGNITION, CONTENT, AND THE A PRIORI: A STUDY IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND KNOWLEDGE
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Note on References
1. Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
1.3 The Central Claim of this Book, and Previews
2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
2.1 Immanent Structuralism
2.2 Natural Mechanism, Computability, and Anti-Mechanism
2.3 Kant’s Anti-Mechanism, Kantian Anti-Mechanism, Vitalism, and Emergentism
2.4 On the Representation of Life
2.5 Kantian Non-Conceptualism and the Dynamicist Model of Life
2.6 Inverted Life, Suspended Life, and Non-Local Life: How LifeDoes Not Strongly Supervene on the Physical, and Why
3. From Biology to Agency
3.1 Two-Dimensional Rational Normativity
3.2 Kant’s Biological Theory of Freedom
3.3 Practical-Freedom-in-Life: Kantian Non-Intellectualism
3.4 The Rationality of the Heart: Principled Authenticity
4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
4.1 The Intuitive Definition of Free Will
4.2 The Four Metaphysical Horsemen of the Apocalypse
4.3 The Three Standard Options, Natural Mechanism, and The Fourfold Knot of Free Agency
4.4 Three Arguments for Classical Incompatibilism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism
4.5 Three Arguments for Local Incompatibilism with Respect to Natural Mechanism
4.6 Sympathy for the Devil: Compatibilism Reconsidered
4.7 Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death?
4.8 Too Hard to Live With: Strawson’s Basic Argument, Hard Determinism, and Hard Incompatibilism
5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
5.1 The Internal Structure of Deep Freedom
5.2 From Frankfurt Back to Kierkegaard: How to Have a Live Option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, Without Alternative Possibilities
5.3 Psychological Freedom, Deep Freedom, and Principled Authenticity
6. Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
6.1 From Deep Freedom to Real Persons
6.2 Real Persons
6.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Real Personhood
7. Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity
7.1 Parfit’s Theory: Six Basic Claims
7.2 Against and Beyond Parfit 1: Two Reasons, and The Minded Animalist Criterion of Personal Identity
7.3 Against and Beyond Parfit 2: Four More Reasons
In the fullness of time, the complete, downloadable text of each part of THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION will also be made available on APP.
A NOTE ON REFERENCES
For convenience, throughout the five-part four book series, The Rational Human Condition—comprising 1. the Preface and General Introduction, 2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, 3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons, 4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence, and 5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism—I refer to Kant’s works infratextually in parentheses. The citations include both an abbreviation of the English title and the corresponding volume and page numbers in the standard “Akademie” edition of Kant’s works: Kants gesammelte Schriften, edited by the Königlich Preussischen (now Deutschen) Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: G. Reimer [now de Gruyter], 1902-). I generally follow the standard English translations, but have occasionally modified them where appropriate. For references to the first Critique, I follow the common practice of giving page numbers from the A (1781) and B (1787) German editions only. Here is a list of the relevant abbreviations and English translations:
BL “The Blomberg Logic.” In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Trans. J.M. Young. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 5-246.
C Immanuel Kant: Correspondence, 1759-99. Trans. A. Zweig. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999.
CPJ Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. P. Guyer and E. Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
CPR Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. P. Guyer and A. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
CPrR Critique of Practical Reason. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 139-271.
DiS “Concerning the Ultimate Ground of the Differentiation of Directions in Space.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 365-372.
DSS “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Elucidated by Dreams of Metaphysics.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 301-359.
EAT “The End of All Things.” Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 221-231.
GMM Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 43-108.
ID “On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (Inaugural Dissertation).” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 373-416.
IUH “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim.” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Anthropology, History, and Eduction. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007. Pp. 107-120.
JL “The Jäsche Logic.” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 519-640.
LE Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Ethics. Trans. P. Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
MFNS Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. M. Friedman. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
MM Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 365-603.
OP Immanuel Kant: Opus postumum. Trans. E. Förster and M. Rosen. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
OT “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 7-18.
Prol Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Trans. G. Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
PP “Toward Perpetual Peace.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 317-351.
Rel Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 57-215.
RTL “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 611-615.
VL “The Vienna Logic,” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 251-377.
WE “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 17-22.
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
Chapter 1 Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
Section 1.3 The Central Claim of this Book, and Previews
The central claim of this book is that the full metaphysical and normative power of a Kantian theory of human free will, practical agency, and persons, with deep and radical ethical and political implications downstream, can be captured by a correct understanding of how biological life in general, and the lives of human minded animals in particular, relate to the rest of physical nature. Or otherwise put, the central claim of this book is that Natural Libertarianism and Minded Animalism are both true.
Now that the basic ideas behind Natural Libertarianism and Minded Animalism are on the table, I need to begin to re-describe them more carefully, and to argue for them step-by-step. By way of previews, here is an outline of my overall six-step argument for Natural Libertarianism, with each step labeled in italics and keyed to chapter titles for convenient back-reference, followed by an annotated outline of the other chapters beyond this Introduction, which doubles as chapter 1.
The Six-Step Argument for Natural Libertarianism
(i) Beyond Mechanism.
Biological life is a physically irreducible but also non-dualist and non-supervenient necessary a priori immanent structure of a well-defined class of far-from-equilibrium, spatiotemporally asymmetric, complex, self-organizing thermodynamic systems. (Premise, justified in chapter 2.)
(ii) From Biology to Agency.
Free rational minded animal agents are nothing more and nothing less than conscious, intentional, caring, rational self-organizing, organismic thermodynamic systems that are capable of (i) deeply free choice based on effective desires and instrumental or non-instrumental internal reasons, (ii) autonomy in the Kantian sense, or rational self-legislation, and (iii) authenticity in the Existentialist sense, i.e., purity of heart, single-mindedness, or wholeheartedness. (Premise, justified in chapter 3.)
Natural Mechanism is the weak disjunctive combination of Universal Natural Determinism and Universal Natural Indeterminism. More specifically, something is naturally mechanized, or a natural automaton, if and only if all its causal behaviors, functions, and operations are necessarily determined by all the deterministic or probabilistic/statistical general causal laws of nature, especially including the Conservation Laws, together with all the settled quantity-of-matter-and-or-energy facts about the past, especially including The Big Bang, and Turing-computable from that base. But not everything natural is Conservation-Laws-determined, Big Bang-caused, and Turing-computable. So Natural Mechanism is false, hence both Universal Natural Determinism and Universal Natural Indeterminism are false. Morever, Hard Determinism is false. Soft Determinism is false. And Classical Libertarianism (including its agent-causal, non-causal, and event-causal versions) is false. Correspondingly, classical Compatibilism (including Soft Determinism, Semi-Compatibilism, Revisionism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism) and classical Incompatibilism (including Hard Determinism, Hard Incompatibilism, Classical Agent-Causal Libertarianism, Classical Non-Causal Indeterminist Libertarianism, and Classical Event-Causal Indeterminist Libertarianism) are all false. At the same time, Local Incompatibilism and Non-Local Compatibilism are true. So Incompatibilistic Compatibilism is true. (Premise, justified in chapter 4.)
Harry Frankfurt’s argument against The Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) is sound, but it does not follow that deep (non-)moral responsibility is compatible with either Universal Natural Determinism or Universal Natural Indeterminism, since Natural Mechanism is false. On the contrary, the Kierkegaardian Either/Or, which flows from the capacity for self-commitment to a live option, is presupposed by all Frankfurt-style counterexamples to PAP; and as metaphysically embedded in a larger free-agency-structure which also includes the capacities for veridical psychological freedom and for principled authenticity (i.e., the capacity for autonomy in the Kantian sense, or rational self-legislation, together with the capacity for purity of heart, single-mindedness, or wholeheartedness), this capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, is a necessary and sufficient condition of deep (non-)moral responsibility. (Premise, justified in chapter 5.)
(v) Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity.
The capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or the Kierkegaardian Either/Or, along with the capacities for veridical psychological freedom, real causal spontaneity, and ownership, are necessary and sufficient conditions of the capacity for deep freedom. In turn, the capacity for deep freedom is a necessary but not sufficient condition of the capacity for principled authenticity, which, as incorporating deep freedom, yields deep (non-)moral responsibility. (Premise, justified in chapter 5.)
(vi) Natural Libertarianism.
Therefore, since Natural Libertarianism is just the three-part thesis (i) that freedom is in life, (ii) that Incompatibilistic Compatibilism is true, and (iii) that the constitution of free rational human minded animal agency inherently includes the capacities for deep freedom and principled authenticity, together yielding deep (non-)moral responsibility, then it follows that Natural Libertarianism is true. (Conclusion, from premises 1-5 above.)
An Annotated Outline of the Other Chapters
Chapter 2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
This chapter works out an anti-mechanistic, non-physicalist, non-dualistic approach to the philosophy of biology—which I call dynamicism[i]—by deploying some Kantian ideas from the Critique of the Power of Judgment, in particular, the idea that organismic life is inherently goal-directed, naturally purposive, or naturally teleological (aka “self-organizing”), but also fully situating these ideas in the framework of contemporary theories of the nature of life. The primary purpose of this chapter is to show that free agency, as a capacity of minded animals, requires uncomputable, spontaneous, causally efficacious, far-from-equilibrium, spatiotemporally asymmetric, complex, self-organizing, egocentrically-centered, reproductive, growing and decaying, more-or-less motile, metabolizing, evolutionary or naturally-selecting, epigenetic, more-or-less finegrainedly normatively attuned thermodynamic activity as a necessary immanent structural ground.
Chapter 3. From Biology to Agency
This chapter uses the non-reductive, Kant-inflected, dynamicist philosophy of biology developed in chapter 2, and combines it with a similarly Kant-inflected theory of intentional agency and practical freedom, but also combines it with Frankfurt’s hierarchical-desire theory of the will as a way of elaborating a broadly Kantian theory of practical reasoning in a contemporary context. The result is a fully-rounded theory of free agency that is at once naturalistic, non-reductive, and psychologically realistic.
Chapter 4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
This chapter provides a critical survey of some important theories and debates in contemporary work on free will, including mainstream versions of Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, and Classical Libertarianism (including its agent-causal, non-causal, and event-causal versions), and also standard arguments for and against Compatibilism or Incompatibilism. Along the way, a crucial distinction is made between (i) determinism (i.e., all the settled quantity-of-matter-and/or-energy facts about the past together with the general causal laws of nature necessitate a single closed present and future), (ii) indeterminism (i.e., all the settled quantity-of-matter-and/or-energyfacts about the past together with the general causal laws of nature do not necessitate a single closed present and future but nevertheless still necessitate a fixed probability space of open presents and futures, according to statistical causal laws of nature), and (iii) non-determinism plus non-indeterminism (i.e., there are some natural processes that are not deterministic, but also not indeterministic, and not mechanistic, but instead inherently involve the ability of a self-organizing thermodynamic system, e.g., a living organism, to exploit some open texture in nature—aka “natural open space”—and create something relatively original and unprecedented in the natural world, without violating any general causal laws of nature, especially including the Conservation Laws). The positive result of the chapter is to carve out a place in logical space for Natural Libertarianism as a version of non-determinism that is incompatibilist with respect to minded animal agents and their lives (especially rational human animals or real human persons, but also non-rational human or non-human minded animals), but also compatibilist with respect to much or most of physical nature apart from living organisms and minded animals, hence as Incompatibilistic Compatibilism.
Chapter 5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
This chapter spells out and argues for Natural Libertarianism in detail, with special reference to the nature of non-deterministic, non-indeterministic, locally incompatibilistic deep freedom, “up-to-me-ness,” or “ultimate sourcehood.” The theory of deep freedom also incorporates a Kierkegaardian “Either/Or” theory of causally and morally responsible choice. This kind of choice does not require alternative possibilities, but instead requires only what I call a live option. By this, I mean that in context there is one thing X that I can either commit myself to choosing or doing, or not commit myself to choosing or doing, and X would not happen (or: would not have happened) if I did not (or: had not) thereby commit(ted) myself. Therefore, as long as I have a live option—as it were, one door that I can open, or refrain from opening—then my choice or act is deeply free, even if, in that context, there are no alternative possibilities. This chapter fuses the Kantian/Kierkegaardian theory of deep freedom with the Kantian/Frankfurtian theory of practical agency developed in chapter 3. It also adds an Existentialist-inspired theory of authenticity vs. inauthenticity to the Kantian/Frankfurtian theory of practical agency, in order to capture the full depth and texture of rational human free agency. A crucial feature of the overall account is that only real persons with sufficiently unified lives can count as deeply free subjects of causal responsibility and deep (non-)moral responsibility, and correspondingly that only real persons with sufficiently unified lives can count as principled, authentic rational free agents. That in turn provides a natural segue to the metaphysics of persons and personal identity worked out in chapters 6 to 7.
Chapter 6. Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
The argument of this chapter builds upon three interconnected propositions: the theory of real human persons called Minded Animalism; a corresponding proposal for a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for real personhood; and a corresponding proposal for a set of criteria for real personal identity over time (diachronic identity) and at a time (synchronic identity). The four core ideas behind Minded Animalism are (i) that real human persons are conscious, essentially embodied living organisms within the human species, that also possess capacities for intentionality, caring, self-consciousness, and rationality, (ii) that there are two distinct types of real persons (including, on the one hand (a) all normal human infants and young children, some impaired older children and impaired human adults, and certain species of non-human animals, and on the other hand (b) all normal older children and most human adults), depending on their differently configured and disposed, or impaired/unimpaired, online capacities for instrumental and/or non-instrumental rationality, (iii) that the identity relation for real persons is an identity relation between proper parts or wholes of minded animal lives, not between minds and minds, or bodies and bodies, or even animals and animals, and (iv) that a necessary condition of real personhood and real personal identity alike is that a real person’s minded animal life be constituted, at least in part, by sufficiently many deeply free choices and acts. This last feature directly and explicitly connects the metaphysics of free will with the metaphysics of persons and personal identity.
Chapter 7. Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity
This final chapter critically compares and contrasts Minded Animalism with Derek Parfit’s highly influential theory of persons and personal identity in Reasons and Persons, as a theoretical foil for bringing out various important elements and philosophical virtues of the Minded Animalist view. This chapter also re-emphasizes the fundamental connections between Natural Libertarianism and Minded Animalism, which are that, insofar as the basic conditions on our Kantian/Kierkegaardian deep freedom and our Kantian/Frankfurtian practical agency are satisfied, so too the basic conditions on our identity as real persons are satisfied, and conversely.
[i] There’s also a very real sense in which my metaphysical conception of physical nature per se (hence also my approach to the philosophy of physics and chemistry) is throughly dynamicist: according to this conception, the natural world as a whole, including us, is nothing more and nothing less than a totality of non-equilibrium, complex thermodynamic systems with irreducible immanent structures of various kinds, that actualize potential energy, emerge in orientable actual space over irreversible actual time, realize the manifest world, and contribute to negentropy. This universal “no-levels,” neutral monist, dual aspect, dynamicist metaphysical picture is collectively inspired by Aristotle’s hylomorphic metaphysics (minus separable noûs or unmoved movers), by Kant’s transcendental idealism and anti-mechanism (minus things-in-themselves), by Whitehead’s process philosophy (minus atomism and theism), by existential phenomenology (plus an ethically-grounded conception of authenticity), and by Prigogine’s non-deterministic interpretation of non-equilibrium thermodynamics (minus any confusion between non-mechanistic non-determinism and mechanistic indeterminism).
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